It’s race day today. I swore that last year was my last year of doing the live video streaming out of Crystal Motor Speedway, but the owner, who has been a long time friend of mine, asked me to do it ‘one more year.’ I would have never done this for anyone other than him, but I decided to do it for ‘one more year’ just for him. It’s a lot of work, costs me lots of money, hair loss, and time I could be camping in some God small tent over by Copper Harbor admiring the skies at night, but just for my friend Ron Flinn, I’m doing it – for one more year. Or so I tell myself.
The Internet service at the track sucks. I get better and faster service on my cell phone out in the Hiawatha National Forest here in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but it is the best I can get. If I had the service speed at the track that I have here at home, this would be a breeze, but I don’t, so we do what we can do. Life goes on.
Doing this every weekend, and on three different holiday weekends where we run two nights a weekend, takes up a lot of my time… time I could be spending writing and researching for my Hemingway novel project based on Hemingway’s time in Seney Michigan back in August of 1919, but such is Life. I’ve always been a writer, and since I was seven, I’ve been writing stories, columns, and now books. I have about 30 some stories and books up on Amazon.
The book I wrote about my wife (I Remember Judy – A Love Story) rose to #2 in the Romance genre for nine heady days. The Romance category makes up (last time I checked) about 58% of all books on Amazon, and for a book to rise into the top 1000 is something. For it to hit in the top ten is a real accomplishment. I was incredibly proud to accomplish that feat.
Now lest you think I’m kvetching about ‘racing,’ I’m not. I’ve been in and around racing since I was five. My Father used to take me to the Indy 500. To the best of my knowledge, I attended roughly a dozen ‘Indy’s.’ I’ve been to at least a dozen NASCAR tracks, interviewed Jeff Gordon, Dale – Senior and Junior, Jerry Glanville (who was, in my never to be humble opinion, a real dick), Kasey Kane, and Chocolate Myers among others. We ran into Myers quite by accident as we sat in a racing company tent back August of 2000 while waiting for someone to speak when Chocolate came wandering in and sat beside us. We talked with him for a good 45 minutes about his work with Dale Sr. He was so ‘common,’ that it made my day. Big ‘famous’ people are rarely that accessible. I love racing, always have, always will, but there are things that I know all too well.
I’ll always love racing, but I also realize that my ‘end of program’ is approaching. I’m 65, almost 66, and I spend at least twenty hours a week out walking and taking photos out and around the various lakes, forests, waterfalls, and rivers that are so abundant here in the UP of Michigan. I spend at least fifty hours a week working on my latest ‘novel in progress,’ which is currently a story about a man I met when I worked in the psych ward of a prison. He was released too early after serving twenty-three years of what was supposed to be a life sentence. He went out, and within a month of being free, he killed four more people. This story is by far my most graphic, true to life story yet.
I am working to leave my imprint on the world when and how I can. My books have been giving me a steady income of $250 to $700 a month on sales. This money will continue well beyond my passing and will go to my grandsons. It is a rare day when I don’t write at least 2500 words into a story in progress. YET… my love of racing remains in my soul. The thrill of watching two cars, be they four-cylinder cars, Late Models or Sprint cars, run side by side, inches apart for lap after lap never dies.
The roar of engines and the crowd – that part of my heart where the passions of hobbies reside will never be able to forget back when I was young. It’s part of the sport to stand to watch two cars coming down to the checkers, mere inches apart, when long-dormant passions rekindle and catch fire. Maybe Johnny Cash was a race fan when in 1963 he sang about the ‘Ring of Fire.’ I’ve seen many nights where the track was torched hot with fast-paced action. Tell me – how can you walk away from that?